Portrayed by: Hilary Duff
Show: Disney’s Lizzie McGuire
The thing with Disney’s Lizzie McGuire is that years later, the show still holds up, and as a character, she is just as lovable as she was when we watched as tweens. She’s also just as relatable as I remember, maybe even more now somehow as adults considering my inner thought process is an even bigger mess than it ever was, but that’s where the beauty of it all comes from, right? No one actually has it fully together no matter how old we are.
As the heroine of the story and essentially the perspective the story was told through, Lizzie’s breakthrough in a myriad of ways came through the series’ means of giving her struggles that actually felt relatable (even while it was at a time where such storylines for targeted audiences were too overdramatized).
Her story wasn’t different from most middle schoolers (excluding the fact that her hair changed color a lot often than mine did), but through everything, Lizzie was the best friend anyone could ask for, she was compassionate, and she was incredibly ambitious.
Lizzie McGuire | Everything for Everyone
Lizzie was so much and so often, that as an adult looking back, I’m happy to know she had a great support system looking out for her in the same way too.
Lizzie is still very young when we meet her, but the solid support system and a good head on her shoulders (one we actually see), allows her to be a good daughter, a supportive sister, and an incredible friend. Imaginably, someone like Lizzie would only grow in such situations to be even stronger if she was given the opportunities to in the future.
(So yes, I’ll be eternally bitter that Hilary Duff’s version of the Lizzie McGuire reboot was axed because I would’ve loved to see just how relatable she is now in her 30s.)
As all parents appear to be when we’re in middle school, Lizzie’s were presumably overbearing when they were just trying their best. And Lizzie’s parents were always trying their best to hold on, which is something we see reciprocated in multiple episodes, but my personal favorite “Grubby Longjohn’s Olde Tyme Revue.” It’s the episode where Lizzie realizes how important preserving such memories are, but more than that the detail that these moments with her parents are crucial for her enjoyment as well. They might be embarrassing, this might seem ridiculous in hindsight, but Lizzie learns just how crucial it is to hold onto these vacations and appreciate everything that her parents have tried to do for her and Matt.
There’s also the realization that at the end of the day, when you have an amazing mother who’s trying her best and only wants to see you happy, at the end of the day, they’re the best friend you can have. It might not happen now while she’s in Middle School and wants to be with her friends, but they get to that place eventually, and we get to understand just how much Lizzie cares to hold onto people in her life.
If you have a little brother, you know there’s no kind of bickering quite like it when you’re in Middle School and they’re in elementary. No one is going to insult harder or more viciously than siblings will, but no one will jump to a sibling’s defense as quickly either. Lizzie McGuire could kill Matt, but she’d also kill for him, and this is another thing I really wish we got to see more of in a reboot as they’re both older now.
And then there was Lizzie McGuire the friend, a detail that could spread for pages on end because her kindness, even amidst chaotic outbursts during fights was always present. I’ll always be in awe of how she jumped in front of the paint in order to ruin her own outfit just so Miranda’s would stay tidy. And that was just the start of her showcasing steadfast loyalty to her friends.
She was a character who cared and a character who cared deeply, this included and extended to people like Kate Sanders who didn’t always make it easy. (You know, I’d like to think the women would have patched things up in the reboot and would have been great friends.) It’s ultimately all a testament to one crucial detail which was Lizzie’s desire for popularity.
Popularity and Humanity
It was always easy to appreciate the fact that Lizzie didn’t want to be popular to step on others or to be mean, but because she just genuinely wanted to be liked. She wanted to be adored because she was the kind of person for whom loving others came so easily, she wanted that in return. And while tween version of me didn’t know what an empath was or have any sort of understanding on this concept, adult me gets it to the t. (Or at least I hope I do.)
Lizzie McGuire was an ambivert and an empath, and she had so much love to give, a lot of times, she didn’t know what to do with it. She wanted to help out as much as she could, and at the same time, she wanted to be loved thus, ultimately revealing that the desire to be loved is so incredibly human we don’t even really know how to vocalize it. It just so often makes appearances here and there through the things we do and say. It becomes a part of who we are.
Lizzie was a human being who wanted to be adored, but even more than that, she wanted to do things that mattered. Through everything her heart always screamed louder than any kind of frustrated statement ever could (i.e. “we want a bra”). This is best shown in one of my all-time favorite episodes, “My Fair Larry.” When Miranda is adamant that she doesn’t want to invite Larry to her party, Lizzie realizes that it genuinely hurts his feelings and decides to disguise him in order to take him anyway. At their age, it was one of the most wholesome things anyone could have done, and it’s easy to picture that as adult, she’d probably be just as caring extending her hand to those who are unfairly treated or not seen.
As an adult, she’d also be able to call her best friend out on her wrong, but as a teen, this was an intricate approach.
Lizzie McGuire aired back when Disney Channel still had its 65 episode limit, and that is a tragedy too. I always wanted more. I wanted to see her grow and find herself. I wanted to see her find love when she was older. (Not with Gordo, please and thanks. See here: The Problems With Childhood Best Friends to Lovers Trope.) I wanted to know what kind of a career she’d chase. She was great at giving advice, she cared about fashion, she was great at organizing, and she could have been so many things.
And at such a young age, Hilary Duff layered her brilliantly then as an adult continued to care about her story just as much. It’s why we didn’t get the reboot we deserved. And I suppose for that I’m grateful. I wanted Duff’s vision or none at all, which is something I still hope the world can one day be ready for.